Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thurston County Elected Officials Sworn In

Above: Elected officials and others pose on stage after the 2018 Thurston County swearing-in ceremony held at South Puget Sound Community College on Thursday.  

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A sparsely attended swearing-in ceremony for newly elected Thurston County officials did not diminish words of wisdom shared by guest speakers on Thursday.

The event was held at the Minneart Center for Performing Arts at South Puget Sound Community College.

Offering the invocation, Reverend Carol McKinley, Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, asked elected officials and citizens alike to maintain a sense of perspective, “understanding our limitations and our own shortcomings, forgiving ourselves and others if we fall short of perfection.”

“May each of us be ready to receive fresh opportunity, new understandings, and new avenues for action and resolution. May each of us remember these virtues that bless our lives and the lives of others: the virtues of caring and compassion, the virtues of honesty and respect, the virtues of charity and patience.

“May all elected officials of Thurston County hold a high sense of their calling, remembering that they are vested here with deep responsibility and make decisions that brings good to the greatest number of people,” she said.

Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst administered the oaths of office.

In her comments, Fairhurst said newly elected officials set the tone for the community’s confidence in our government. 

“We are called upon to be stewards of justice and make sure fairness and equality is delivered in our offices and through the work we are doing,” Fairhurst said. 

“It’s important to see the people with whom you work, or come to your counters or the people you interact with on the street. Their only interaction with government might be you…recognizing their individual dignity and respect all of us are due do to our virtue of being humans and being here.

“…You get to decide the difference you make and now, more than ever, we need everyone to stand up and be their best selves and seeing the best selves in others so that together as a community we can live to our highest ideals and our highest goals, because by choosing to work together, we can, and do, make a difference,” said Fairhurst, who has lived in Thurston County for nearly 35 years.

Speaking of the circle of life, United States Representative Denny Heck (D-10), who handily won reelection to his seat, spoke of how he has moved up in seniority and now has the first office of former U.S. Representative John Dingell in the Rayburn Building in Washington D.C.  

Dingell, 92, of Michigan, served from 1955-2015. 

Heck related a story of how he spotted Dingell as an incoming freshman congressperson in 2013 and sat down next to himBright-eyed, Heck wanted to know the “secret sauce” for navigating his way around. 

Dingell turned to Heck and said, “You have a very important job…and you’re not a very important person.”

Heck said that the lesson was, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about others. So stay humble, because it is only through humility that you can truly empathize with others that you were sent here to represent and serve,” he said.

Above: Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, left, and Reverend Carol McKinley, Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, on stage Thursday at South Puget Sound Community College.

Tye Menser, who narrowly defeated Commissioner Bud Blake by 861 votes out of a total of 115,401 votes cast, was not present at Thursday’s ceremony.

He will be sworn in December 31 at the Thurston County Courthouse.

Last minute mailers produced by local property rights activist Glen Morgan under various political committees including, “A Brighter Thurston County PAC,” attempted to thwart Menser’s candidacy by confusing voters into writing in Port Commissioner E.J. Zita. 

Zita was not running for the commissioner position and was on record supporting Menser.

According to official results, there were 757 write-ins for that race.

Little Hollywood asked Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall about those write-ins.  

“Since E.J. Zita was not a declared write-in candidate we don’t count any write-in votes for her. We actually explored this with our attorney (to see if we could) and it would require a court order to open all the boxes and count the write-in ballots,” she responded in late November.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Gibboney New Port of Olympia Executive Director

Above: Port of Olympia executive director candidate Sam Gibboney spoke at a public forum on Thursday. Gibboney was chosen by port commissioners as the Port of Olympia’s new executive director on Friday.

Rainbow Ceramics contract scheduled to expire in July 2019

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Port of Olympia commissioners unanimously chose Sam Gibboney as the port’s new executive director on Friday.

Commissioners held final interviews and deliberated for several hours in executive session before making their final selection among three final candidates.

Gibboney, of Friday Harbor, uses she/her pronouns. A civil engineer, she has served as executive director of the Port of Port Townsend for two years.

Prior to her position there, she worked for San Juan County in a variety of capacities including director of environmental resources and deputy director of public works.  

As a private consultant of her own company from 2000 - 2013, she provided strategic planning, construction project management, and land use and environmental permitting services to public agencies and non-profits. 

Her list of clients includes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Sanctuary Programs, land trusts, counties, and conservancy organizations.

Early in her career, she was a Superfund environmental restoration manager at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, supervising a $9.8 million annual budget. There, she negotiated the first record of decision for a Superfund program in Alaska.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from San Diego University in 1990 and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington in 2009.

Her community service includes board president of the Port Townsend Food Co-op from 2010 to 2013. She is also a current member of the Port Townsend Rotary.

In her application for the executive position, Gibboney emphasized her 25 years of experience in working for and providing services to local and state government and non-profit organizations.

“I would bring a record of leadership in sustainable economic development balanced with sound environmental stewardship and community involvement,” she wrote.

Above: Port of Olympia Commissioner E.J. Zita chats with community member Kevin Partlow during a break in port executive director candidate interviews on Thursday.

On Thursday, the public had a chance to meet and interview the finalists at the Hilton Garden Inn in Olympia. All three port commissioners were in the audience.

The finalists were Gibboney, Dan Stahl, chief operating officer for the Port of Longview, and Geir-Eilif Kalhagen, director of Northern California and Pacific Northwest Metro Ports based in Long Beach, California.

Community member Denis Langhans attended the meeting and questioned each candidate about the port’s high ratio of tax levy to operating revenues. 

Contacted after Gibboney was chosen, Langhans said that of the three candidates, she was the one he preferred.

“I think that she has a broader view than the others. I think that she may be able to think outside the box, and not stay stuck in the present culture of non-accountability,” he said.

“For every dollar the port takes in, the taxpayers have to subsidize with 54 cents. This is much higher than other middle to large ports who average under 20 percent. 

A comparison was made at yesterdays meeting to Anacortes which has the same four business units and is slightly larger than the Port of Olympia. The tax levy for Anacortes is about $650,000 whereas the Port of Olympia’s tax levy is ten times larger,” he said.

Prior to the announcement on Friday, port commission board president E.J. Zita came out of executive session three times in one and a half hours to explain to those gathered for the public meeting that deliberations were still in progress.

Finally, their deliberations over, Zita began the meeting by saying it was a new beginning for the Port of Olympia.

“Thank you all for your patience. The Port of Olympia commission took a long time to evaluate our finalists because we had such strong candidates. We have spent today reviewing them in light of what the Port needs most right now. We need a strong and experienced leader who can help us assess our strengths and challenges, plot a good course forward, and have a prosperous voyage. 

“This ship, the Port of Olympia, needs a captain who can work well with the commission to carry out wise decisions – and who can also weigh input from crew – that means Port staff and our diverse community in Thurston County….

We’re confident that Sam Gibboney is the right person for the job of executive director, and we welcome her aboard at the Port of Olympia,” she said.

Following the departure of Ed Galligan earlier this year, Karras Consulting assisted the commissioners in the search for a new executive director.

According to Dennis Karras, the ports search process recruited a total of 39 candidates. The commissioners interviewed 25 of them. Overall, the search drew 27 candidates from in-state and 12 from out-of-state. Twenty-two of the candidates had port experience, and 17 had other experience.

There were a total of four women who applied for the position. In the top ten, 20 percent were people of color, Karras told Little Hollywood after the meeting.

In 2019, the Port of Olympia will face continued scrutiny of its financial sustainability and a contract involving controversial cargo. 

The ports contract with Rainbow Ceramics to accept and transfer ceramic proppants is scheduled to expire in July 2019. 

There are 125 bags and 10 rail cars of proppants remaining on port property, said port staff on Friday. 

As the Port approaches its 100 year anniversary, it is also working on a community visioning process called Vision 2050.

Gibboney will start work on January 22, 2019 and be paid $175,000 a year.

For more information about the Port of Olympia, Vision 2050, Rainbow Ceramics, ceramic proppants, rail blockades and protests, go to Little Hollywood at and type key words into the search button.

Above: Bags of ceramic proppants sit at the Port of Olympia on Friday. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act Remembered

Above: Former United States Ambassador to China Gary Locke spoke at the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act on Sunday.

“Legislation matters, and so does its reversal….let’s send that message.” - Beth Takekawa, executive director of the Wing Luke Museum

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

It was a day of intensely personal and poignant storytelling at an event commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act.

The program was held at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle on Sunday.

Stories about the impact of racist and discriminatory federal policies were told in first person by Bettie Luke, sister of Wing Luke, and many others.

Wing Luke, a civil rights attorney, served as a Seattle city councilmember from 1962 until his death in 1965. He was the first Asian American to hold elected office in Washington State.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned the immigration of Chinese to the United States. It also prohibited Chinese from becoming naturalized citizens. 

Native born Chinese American citizens could face exclusion if they left the United States and tried to return. When they returned, they faced extensive interrogations.

Subsequent legislation extended and further restricted Chinese immigration and promoted anti-Chinese sentiment and violence.

The repeal act is known as the Magnuson Act of 1943, named after Senator Warren G. Magnuson who proposed it when he was a member of the House of Representatives.

Even when repealed, only 105 Chinese per year were allowed to enter the United States until 1965.

The exclusionary policies impacted Chinese opportunities for housing, property ownership and employment for decades. 

Many speakers described that those policies can still be felt in their families today.

Above: Bettie Luke, sister of Wing Luke, relates her family history while Lorraine Lee, center, and Connie So listen. Lee is chief administrative law judge of the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings and was a former policy advisor to Governor Locke. So is principal lecturer of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, among other positions.

Bettie Luke said she did not hear stories or know much about her heritage while growing up. She described the impact that lack of knowledge had when her mother died.

“You’re caught in this dilemma where you’re told that the ideal is the more American you become, the better accepted that you would be….On the other hand, throw away your culture…. It’s such a push and pull.

“When my mother died, I asked my elders, ‘What do I need to do for her funeral?’ And, caught in the push and pull dilemma, they said, ‘Oh, we don’t do those things anymore.’ And I thought, ‘What? She was so Chinese!’

“I wanted to make sure that she got a farewell that was Chinese. So, I had to ask and ask and ask….It’s so heartbreaking to have to throw away your culture. And so many of us lived that promise that the more white American you became the more you would be accepted and that’s such a loss.

“…Women are the keepers of the culture and there’s so much that was lost, so much that we did not learn….Our family did not know the name of mother's village or the name of our father’s village.

They located a relative who did know and were able to connect with her mother’s family. Luke said she then found out that her mother once had eight brothers, but three had died of starvation.

Her voice breaking, Luke said that realization was a stab in the heart and personalized why her parents had worked so hard.  

“They had an entire compound of relatives that they supported so that they could live....that carried on for a long, long time….I was a child and did not hear the stories. I wonder now about the following generations. What do they care about? I want us to continue learning lessons….”

Gary Locke, former United States Ambassador to China and Washington State Governor, also spoke about his family history and the need to show compassion and fairness toward immigrants.

Saying he didnt plan on speaking, Locke addressed some sensitive topics head-on.

Mentioning President Trump’s efforts to stop those coming to the United States and deport those who are here, Locke expressed concern with the rise in prejudice and discrimination.

“Our history is filled with prejudice against every wave of foreigners and immigrants that have come here to this country. We need to remember that and celebrate the successes we have had but use that celebration to renew our determination to prevent others from facing that same discrimination and prejudice.

“How is it that so many Chinese were able to come to American despite the Chinese Exclusion Act? It’s because so many of our ancestors claimed they were U.S. citizens or born to U.S. citizens, but the records had been destroyed in San Francisco in the fire.

“And many of our relatives claimed to be U.S. citizens or sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Why? Because they were paper sons, paper daughters. Many of my relatives came to the United States as paper sons and relatives. Families --U.S. citizens -- would go back to China and then another family would pay to claim the son or daughter as the offspring of that U.S. citizen so they could come in.

“So, sometimes the Chans were not really a Chan but a Lee and the Lees weren’t really Lee but a Locke. And the Lockes weren’t really a Locke but maybe they were a Woo. So, we, among our own people, have come here illegally....

“So, before we go around saying, ‘Let’s kick out all those immigrants that are here illegally, improperly, we need to look at ourselves....

“And why is it that even when the Japanese were incarcerated during World War II, soldiers volunteered to serve in the United States Army when their parents and their brothers and sisters were behind barbed wire concentration camps?

“Why is it that African Americans, facing so much segregation in America, signed up to fight in World War II as part of the Tuskegee Airmen and others, even though back home they faced such terrible discrimination? Also, Native Americans, and the list goes on. It’s because they believed in the essential goodness and destiny of America.

“We are not a perfect country. But we hold ourselves up with high ideals and that’s why people of all generations come to America. We in America are all foreigners or immigrants, whether we’re first generation or tenth generation, except for the Native Americans. We are all foreigners.

“And what has made America great through all these centuries is that beacon of hope and opportunity that has attracted generation after generation of people…whether our ancestors came on the Mayflower or a slave ship or on a boat from China.

“…. We’ve all sacrificed and given our blood, sweat and tears for this country, and therefore when we see injustices being perpetuated against other populations and other ethnic groups, it is our duty, it is our responsibility to stand up for them.

“…. This is a celebration because 75 years ago we repealed this racist act and it was a person from this state who then became a U.S. senator who was responsible for that. So, we have much to be proud of, not only in terms of our own ethnicity but the history of this state in correcting racist acts and prejudicial acts.

Locke then related the story of his grandfather who came over from China and worked as a houseboy in Olympia and later as a chef at Virginia Mason Hospital.

Locke said it was Doctor Mason who told Locke’s grandfather to bring his family to America. When he did so, his grandfather and family members were held in detention at the immigration facility.

“It was Doc Mason who went down to the immigration center to vouch for my grandfather, and got grandfather, my father, and my uncle out….Act of courage. Act of kindness.

“We need to remember that that same compassion and commitment to diversity and fairness to all other groups in America. Let’s celebrate, let’s learn more about our history and our past, and let’s continue to fight,” said Locke.

Staff members with the National Archives at Seattle’s Sandpoint Way office also spoke and encouraged those interested in genealogy to use their database and research expertise. 

Much can be learned in the interrogation interviews and marriage, birth and death records of Chinese immigrants and others, they said.

Hao-Jan Chang of Bellevue said he has documented 24 generations of Gary Locke’s ancestry to the year 1275.

The Chinese American Citizens Alliance (Seattle Lodge) co-organized Sundays event.

Correction, December 17, 2018: Bettie Lukes mother had eight brothers, not eleven, as originally reported.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ho-Ho-Hobo Wreaths Tell Stories

Above: Ahmad, 26, makes a wreath at the Ho-Ho-Hobo holiday wreath stand at the tent city on the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street

Ho-Ho-Hobo Wreaths Now Available 

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Ho-Ho-Hobo is back! 

This year, the holiday wreath stand organized by Walker Stephens and other volunteers is located in a tent encampment on the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street in downtown Olympia.

Wreaths are available for a sliding scale donation starting at $20. Each wreath, some classic, some funky, has a tag with the name of the person who made it. 

Stephens hung out near the stand and explained the concept: $5.00 goes immediately toward the person who made it, $5.00 goes toward the person who sells it, $5.00 goes toward Stephens gas and wreath-making supplies, and the rest goes into a community pot. 

At a meeting held weekly on Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at 115 Legion Way SW, everyone decides as a group what to do with the extra funds. The meeting is open to everyone regardless of previous involvement or housing status.

Each wreath tells a story. Sometimes, the person is there to tell it in their own voice.

Ahmad, 26, has been homeless for a few months. He has lived in Olympia since he was 11.

“I’m a slacker, a freeloader, but I do need help. I’ve had close calls and eye-opening situations,” he says, working on a wreath at the Ho-Ho-Hobo wreath making stand.

He allowed Little Hollywood to tell his story because he thought it would help others.

Spelling his name, Ahmad says his name is Muslim.

“I still have yet to find myself in a religion, but I believe in a Father/God/Mother  Nature. We are like gods and nature. I actually think there’s two – not just one.”

“I dabble, I use, I’m a smoker,” he volunteers in the next sentence, his voice soft.

“I was looking for a place to stay between the (Union Gospel) Mission and the Salvation Army...sometimes you don’t have the energy in the cold weather. It’s freezing. If you’re not prepared for it, it can take quite a bit of a toll on you. Someone died over there you know,” he said, pointing to the tent where a woman with health issues lived and died last Sunday.

Like many downtown residents, he discovered the tent encampment to be something of a haven. Like a city, it’s a community. While we spoke, people were coming and going, checking in with each other.

“This kind of stuff (the bustle of activity) is perfect because it shows you a way to hustle with the bare necessities. We can make music. We can use this parking lot for haircuts and things that could get people more income. It generates a lot of ideas. Everyone here has their story. Different walks of life in here, you’d get different responses. I haven’t been here that long….

When asked what happened, Ahmed said he got kicked out of the house by his mom in July. He had a tent, but he gave it away to someone he said needed it more than he did. Ahmad is staying with a friend.

“Then I got in trouble at Walmart for shoplifting. I tried to go back home but my mom and I didn’t agree. She’s at that stage in her life – she’s reaching a time limit, like, if you don’t get certain things done, that’s going to affect other things. The world has changed in the 26 years since I’ve been born, and we see things differently.

“She’s done some things that I’m not very familiar with – she works two jobs, she raised me by herself and I always saw her as a strong woman until I started getting in trouble with the law. She didn’t really know certain things that I was doing, and our communication was affected by it. 

“She never told me that she took out mortgages and loans for her house, so her house went into foreclosure and she’s looking at going out into the streets. This is what she’s experiencing. When the real estate owner took it under his name, we weren’t able to stay there any longer,” Ahmad said, his thoughts drifting away.

“She wants me to be the best I can be,” he added after a long pause.

Little Hollywood asked him if she knows where he is. He said yes, but he hasn’t spoken with her. He has spoken with his sister who brought him clothes.

“That’s what made me rethink where I’m at because they gave me a few things.”

Asked if he knows how to get services, he says he does. He said he is eating and has a place to stay at the camp.

“I just get bored. I’m able to work. I’m able-bodied…. I can pretty much do anything,” he said. 

watched him choose cedar boughs and holly for the wreath and slowly wrap wire around them.

You look like you are creative, I said, and meant it.

“I’ve done landscaping - a little bit of everything. I like working with my hands. I want to go to school and get a degree in engineering, like mechanical engineering. I want to build machines. That would be cool,“ he smiled.

“I believe in fate and right now God or whoever is up there is making it work,” Ahmad said, continuing to make the wreath. “I usually don’t talk so much.” 

Above: Ahmad is almost finished with his wreath.

Holiday Wreath Supplies Needed

Ho-Ho-Hobo is accepting donations of markers, ribbons, materials for name tags, plastic ornaments and miscellaneous, beautiful and funky decorations for decorating wreaths. 

Supplies can be dropped off at the red Ho-Ho-Hobo booth in the tent city on the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street. The booth is open from 10:00 a.m. until dark every day except Wednesdays. 

Other wreath vending locations are being planned by organizers. 

On Saturday, a Ho-Ho-Hobo booth did brisk business outside the Capitol Theater during the annual Duck-the-Malls holiday bazaar.

“We earned $450 today outside Duck the Malls - a record! Thats after paying out $180 to our sales team and the folks who made all those wreaths! Stephens reported after the event.

As for the name Ho-Ho-Hobo, the name was created by and for the street community who make the holiday wreaths with love and humor.

Someone working on a wreath burst into laughter when Stephens added, The only people who complain about the name are housed people.  

For a previous story about the Ho-Ho-Hobo wreath stand, go to 

Above: Wreaths are available by donation at the Ho-Ho-Hobo wreath stand in the tent city at the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Update on Olympia Homelessness Issues

Above: A home in a tent city at State Avenue and Franklin Street on a city owned parking lot in downtown Olympia. In the background is Billy Frank Jr. Place, an apartment complex operated by the Low Income Housing Institute.

Code Blue Declared, Winter Survival Events, Volunteer Training Available

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Calling it a “Code Blue” public health emergency, the Thurston County Public Health Department activated its hazard shelter plan on Tuesday. 

As temperatures dropped into the 20s in the evenings this week, the emergency increased overnight bed capacity for an additional 130 beds.

The shelter network includes the Salvation Army, St. Michael’s Church, Community Youth Services, and the Family Support Center, Union Gospel Mission, the Yelm Community Services Center.

The plan is intended to accommodate people who might not survive in outdoor camps, doorways or cars, and highlights the urgency to address and coordinate Olympia area homelessness issues.

At a tent city on the corner of State and Franklin Street, the Olympia Fire Department has allowed residents on the lot to have contained fires to keep warm and actively educating them about safe fire containment methods.

In November, the city counted approximately 310 individuals sleeping outdoors or in tents in downtown Olympia. There are many more living nearby in wooded areas, under bridges, and along railroad tracks. 

A several hour study session with briefings by area social service providers to the Olympia City Council Tuesday night helped councilmembers get a much clearer picture of what has become a multi-pronged approach to homelessness issues.

Above: An Intercity Transit bus with a Little Creek Casino advertising slogan, Live a Little, lends itself to a bit of irony as it passes by a tent city on the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street in downtown Olympia. 

Above: The city is preparing a site with space for 80 tent sites on a parking lot on Olympia Avenue and Franklin Street behind Intercity Transit in downtown Olympia. The site has been marked with 10x10 painted squares and is expected to be available for use within days.

At State Avenue and Franklin Street, a tent city has sprung up on a parking lot adjacent to Billy Frank Jr. Place, a low income housing apartment complex.

Due to a September ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, cities cannot clear homeless camps without giving them someplace to go.

The city is preparing another parking lot nearby as a site with space for 80 tents on Olympia Avenue and Franklin Street behind Intercity Transit. The city is calling this a temporary housing “mitigation” site. 

Wooden pallets will be provided so tents are not on the ground, along with sanitation services and dumpsters for garbage collection.

A modified shipping container, provided by the Port of Olympia, will be available for secure storage of belongings. Plumbing, electrical, and two tiny homes as camp posts will also be available on site.

The Union Gospel Mission will provide support as the camp host.

City manager Steve Hall warned councilmembers that the site will be better than the scene at the State and Franklin Street lot, but it will not be city managed and will not have food drop-off capabilities, cooking tents or medical supplies.

The intent is to have two such sites with the total capacity of 140-160 people.

New Crisis Response Team, Familiar Faces Programs

A new mental health focused crisis response team funded by the recently passed Public Safety levy lid lift will begin work in downtown Olympia. 

Its work is broad-based and will operate with the Olympia Police Department as another community policing option, diverting individuals from jail or hospitals.

The crisis response team will collaborate with a new, grant funded street outreach and system navigation program called the “Familiar Faces” program.

The program will offer personal services to at least 15 to 20 individuals known to need the most care. The individuals, most of whom are street dependent in downtown Olympia, were selected using a vulnerability index by members of the Olympia Police Department’s walking patrol, the Downtown Ambassadors, and social service providers.

The primary goal is to connect individuals to services, divert unwanted behaviors, manage immediate crises, coordinate case support for specific individuals, and improve the safety of their physical space.

Two individuals called “peer navigators” will work with these individuals most of the day and be reachable through evening hours.

The program will be patterned off a successful program in Eugene and operated in collaboration with Catholic Community Services and Recovery International, an organization that has over 25 years of experience.

In the future, a van will be available for use as a citywide mobile crisis service and transport individuals to wherever needed such as shelters and health centers.

The Familiar Faces program is funded through a $106,000 grant that expires in June 2019.

Briefing on the Providence Community Care Center

Providence Community Care Center (PCCC) on the corner of State Avenue and Franklin Street has been in service for one year. It operates Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and closed on Saturdays.

Their briefing included representatives from the Center, Interfaith Works, SideWalk, Behavioral Health Resources, and the Olympia FREE Clinic.

The PCCC's day room provides clients ongoing connection to shelters and other services, hygiene and hospitality services such as restrooms, showers, laundry, bag check, water, coffee, distribution of hygiene supplies. There are also chairs, tables and couches for respite.

In October, the PCCC saw 2,728 guests, 207 of whom were new.

Of the total number seen, 115 were enrolled in coordinated entry, 161 sought mental health services and 62 individuals sought physical health services. The building facilities provided 803 showers, 258 loads of laundry, and 1,160 bags were checked. Twenty-nine individuals found housing or housing placements.

The building sees an average of 101 guests per day, but staff said that number is likely to go up as the weather gets colder. The Center is not intended to be a day warming shelter.

It was anticipated that the Center would be funded for ten years, but a representative of the Providence Foundation said they could fund it for only three or four more years.

The Providence St. Peter Foundation is funding the deficits of the Center including the building lease and operating expenses, which is approximately $300,000 per year or $25,000 per month.   

Interfaith Works

Meg Martin of Interfaith Works gave a report on the day warming shelter in operation at First Christian Church on Franklin Street.

Three support staff and one floor manager is onsite six days a week, who facilitate crisis management, hygiene and hospitality services and connection to services. 

It is being funded in 2018 by the City of Olympia, City of Tumwater, Thurston County, private funding, and Interfaith Works.

Funding in 2019 for the day warming shelter looks much better, Martin said, with Thurston County providing $200,700. There is a $35,300 gap in funding, but Martin says she is very pleased overall and gap funding will be sought in a myriad of ways.

Emergency Housing Ordinance Update

The city recently passed an emergency housing ordinance that allows for the establishment of temporary emergency shelter sites on faith-based, non-profit or government properties, subject to a permit.

Tentative plans for three faith-based sites are underway, said Keith Stahley, City of Olympia community planning and development director. The sites will be co-sponsored by the city and faith communities in which the city will help cover costs and provide technical assistance toward their operations.

Plum Street Tiny Village, Martin Way Permanent Housing Site

Meanwhile, the Plum Street Tiny Village is taking shape and will open in mid to late January at 830 Union St. It will provide space for 40 individuals. Twelve tiny homes have been built and more than a dozen are under construction.

Plans for permanent housing site are also underway at 2828 Martin Way and may open in 2020, said Stahley.

Additionally, the city is providing funding to move two existing shelters to a 24/7 operation: Community Youth Services Rosie’s Place will open its doors to youth during the day, and the Salvation Army is upgrading their building on Plum Street to provide a place for individuals during daytime hours.

Ending the evening on a high note, Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones said that he feels the city has “matured” and that there’s a buzz in the community that the city is finally taking on the issue of homelessness.

Tye Gundel, a volunteer social worker with Just Housing, sat in the audience through the evening’s reports. Just Housing distributes food and supplies to encampments in the downtown area and beyond and meets with individuals in need on a regular basis.

Gundel says that the point-in-time count for homeless individuals is known to be 40 to 50 percent higher than those who are actually counted in one 24-hour period each January.

“The biggest piece that’s missing is all the people not fitting into the city’s so-called mitigation camps, so that’s where we’ve been putting our energy - with those who are living in the woods and other places, Gundel said on Thursday. 

“We’re working closely with the city and other social service providers on strategies but there’s a lot of uncertainty. The city is telling us they’re not going to do sweeps unless they have alternative locations. We’re hoping that’s true. We’re also hoping the downtown business community understands and continues to work with everybody,” said Gundel.

Upcoming Events, Volunteer Opportunities

Just Housing is offering an opportunity to learn more about encampments at an Encampment Support Workshop on Saturday, December 8, 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Avenue SE, Olympia. 

Organizers will discuss why encampments exist, the challenges of residents and their neighbors, and how community members can get involved in supporting the survival of unhoused community members. For more information, go to

A Winter Survival Supply Drive is being held Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at United Churches of Olympia at 110 11th Avenue SE, Olympia. Survival supplies will be distributed to those living unsheltered in Olympia. Blankets, tents, tarps, sleeping bags, handwarmers, gloves, jackets, socks, hats, batteries, camp supplies pallets, flashlights and baby wipes are most appreciated. Monetary donations can be made at

The next work party at the Plum Street Tiny Home Village is scheduled for December 15 at 830 Union Street SE, Olympia. For more information, email and put Plum Street Tiny Home Village in the subject line. Assistance will be provided to those with little to no construction or painting experience.

Interfaith Works and Sidewalk conduct regular trainings on how to volunteer with the homeless. For more information, go to Interfaith Works at or call (360) 915-7306. The emergency shelter hotline is 1 (844) 629-7373.

For updates about homelessness issues from the City of Olympia, go to

For more information and photos of the Plum Street Tiny Village, the Martin Way permanent housing site, homelessness issues, downtown Olympia, Just Housing and other area social services providers, go to Little Hollywood and type key words into the search button.

Above: Tye Gundel of Just Housing accepts a donation of several bags of large men’s jackets and other warm clothes, socks, and shoes Thursday morning.